India is the world’s largest arms importer

The Swedish arms control watchdog SIPRI has rleased its latest report on trends in international arms transfers. The big news is India’s arms-buying bonanza over the last five years: India received 9 per cent of the volume of international arms transfers during 2006–10, with Russian deliveries accounting for 82 per cent of Indian arms imports. ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images
RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images
RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

The Swedish arms control watchdog SIPRI has rleased its latest report on trends in international arms transfers. The big news is India's arms-buying bonanza over the last five years:

India received 9 per cent of the volume of international arms transfers during 2006–10, with Russian deliveries accounting for 82 per cent of Indian arms imports.

'Indian imports of major conventional weapons are driven by a range of factors. The most often cited relate to rivalries with Pakistan and China as well as internal security challenges’,states Siemon Wezeman of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. ‘As an importer, India is demanding offsets and transfers of technology to boost its own arms industry, and, in order to secure orders, major suppliers are agreeing to such demands’.

The Swedish arms control watchdog SIPRI has rleased its latest report on trends in international arms transfers. The big news is India’s arms-buying bonanza over the last five years:

India received 9 per cent of the volume of international arms transfers during 2006–10, with Russian deliveries accounting for 82 per cent of Indian arms imports.

‘Indian imports of major conventional weapons are driven by a range of factors. The most often cited relate to rivalries with Pakistan and China as well as internal security challenges’,states Siemon Wezeman of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. ‘As an importer, India is demanding offsets and transfers of technology to boost its own arms industry, and, in order to secure orders, major suppliers are agreeing to such demands’.

The next four countries on the list are, in order, China, South Korea, Pakistan, and Greece.

Some countries that have recently made headlines for other reasons are also high on the list:

During 2006–10, arms imports were particularly high in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt and Algeria. Based on existing orders and known procurement plans, Saudi Arabian and Moroccan arms imports are expected to rise significantly in the coming years.

According to Pieter Wezeman of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme ‘Although Libya placed only limited orders for major conventional weapons following the lifting of the UN arms embargo in 2003, in recent years it has served as an excellent illustration of the competition between major suppliers France, Italy, Russia and the UK for orders’.

In the case of Egypt, 60 percent of those weapons came from the United States, including the M-1A1 tanks and M-113 armored vehicles seen on the streets of Cairo last month.

Fears of American decline notwithstanding, the USA is still an unchallenged No. 1 in arms exports with 30 percent of the market compared to No. 2 Russia’s 23 percent. And while South Korea may make the components that keep America’s iPhones running, Seoul is still America’s best customer for guns, accounting for 14 percent of sales.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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